Be a better technology leader.

Leading a technology organization is uniquely hard. We get it.

Startup Patterns leadership programs develop new technology leaders, help experienced leaders achieve new breakthroughs, and create extremely high-performing product development teams.

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The leadership talents required in a product development organization are unique.

Product development is a very complex and ever-changing environment. The people who work in this field are particularly demanding, both of themselves and of their leaders. Managers of technology and product development groups need to be excellent not only with technology and process, but also emotional intelligence and communication.

Leadership is about developing your own personal growth path, and inspiring the personal growth of others who follow you. Good leaders model the behavior they want to see in their people, and inspire them to improve. They ask questions. They admit when they are wrong. And most importantly, they put the needs of others first.

Leadership development specifically designed for product developers.

Startup Patterns provides a unique coaching experience specifically designed for managers within product organizations, including a combination of Lean and Agile leadership methods with a focus on developing mindfulness and enhancing professional self-discovery and growth. Our coaching can be delivered as a stand-alone program, or in alignment with any other organization transformation effort.

Mindful Leadership Coaching

Mindful Leadership Masterclass

Life was easier when you were shipping code. Now you’ve got a team of developers looking to you for leadership. Our 10-week cohort-based online leadership masterclass includes a comprehensive leadership curriculum critical for success in modern organizations. Open enrollment is available to the public.

Company-wide Leadership Training

It is quite common for great individual contributors to be promoted to management. But they cannot succeed in the vastly different realm of leading humans without adequate training. We offer a private compact version of our public masterclass for companies that wish to train a group of managers in a group setting. The program leverages the same curriculum as our master class but customized for your company's unique needs, in-person or remote.

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Entrepreneurship Coaching

It's hard enough getting from idea to product-market fit. How do you get your early stage startup team into tip-top shape? We have evolved our popular “12 Week MVP” entrepreneur training system to focus on startup leadership in particular. This program combines the rigor of an accelerator with the care and compassion of individualized executive leadership coaching, finely tuned for early stage startups.

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Executive Coaching

As a senior leader of a fast-growing product organization, you want to improve but feel like you’re always behind. Give us 6 weeks, and we’ll get you on a new and higher-performing path. This unique executive coaching experience is specifically designed for senior leaders like you within product organizations, including a combination of Lean and Agile leadership methods with a focus on developing mindfulness and enhancing professional self-discovery and growth. Limited availability.

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Product development expertise merged with mindfulness and a growth mindset.

As a Silicon Valley veteran of 20 years, Sam McAfee has helped many companies build and scale new digital products, find product-market fit, and build and improve product development capabilities. He works with product executives and teams to develop and ship new digital products from ideas to product-market fit and beyond. He developed a structured framework that combines the best practices of Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile development into one seamless approach. Plus, he literally wrote the book on startup patterns, documenting what works and what doesn't.

Founding his first edtech startup at the age of 16, Brian Sowards has launched innovative products and programs at more than 50 education institutions in the US, Canada and Australia including Cornell University, Princeton University and Arizona State University. He's presented at SWSXEdu, EDUCAUSE, NAIS, CASE and ASU + GSV Summit.

What people are saying...

"Sam is a rare find in that he not only has deep subject matter expertise and real experience getting to product market fit, he can speak to it in a way that is deeply insightful and actionable for startup founders. He has become a staple in our Incubator programming because, as one of our founders said, "he really knows his sh*t". He truly can talk the talk and walk the walk, which can be hard to come by in the Valley. Thanks so much, Sam!"

Molly Pyle, Senior Program Manager, SU Ventures

"Sam and Brian are excellent in many capacities: as coaches, trainers, and advisors. They were able to distill lean to a large, enterprise customer like Microsoft in a way that's engaging and fun. I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone looking to implement lean, at big companies and small alike."

Sean Knox, Senior Engineering Manager, Microsoft Azure

"Sam did a two day workshop for our development group which has been doing XP for many years. Sam’s experience and knowledge allowed him to speak both our current language around XP best practices as well as help us learn a new vocabulary of Lean Startup that has changed the conversations we are able to have as a team. He was giving us tastings of fine resources from which I now want to go back and drink deeply."

Joel Davis, Director of Innovation, Follett Publishing

Speaking Engagements

I regularly give public talks on entrepreneurship, technology startups, and product development. If you’re interested in having me speak at your event or institution, please send me note introducing yourself and your group.

Past Events


Silicon Valley Innovation Center

Novemeber 8, 2018

"Panel on Corporate Innvation"

Event Page

Agile Conference - SF Federal Reserve Bank

November 8, 2018

"Why Enterprise Agile Teams Fail"

(private event)


Agile Camp SV

Novemeber 6, 2017

"Startup Patterns Inside Enterprise"

Event Page

Agile Camp NY

September 25, 2017

"Startup Patterns Inside Enterprise"

Event Page

Agile Conference - SF Federal Reserve Bank

August 23, 2017

"Lean on Agile: Getting the Best of Both Worlds"

(private event)

SVI Academy - Gateway to Silicon Valley

August 21, 2017

"Getting to Product Market Fit"

Event Page

Entrepreneurs and Investors, Sicon Valley

May 2, 2017

"How to Quickly Find Product Market Fit"

Silicon Valley Agile Trends and Leadership

February 16, 2017

"Lean on Agile: Getting the Best of Both Worlds"


AgileCamp Silicon Valley

October 28, 2016

"Lean on Agile: Getting the Best of Both Worlds"

Agile Camp

Product School

September 14, 2016

"From Product Development to Market Fit Fast!

Event page


September 15, 2016

"Study Hall with Sam McAfee"

Study Hall

Santa Clara University

May 17, 2016

"Guest lecture on Lean Startup"


April 7, 2016

"How to Quickly Find Product-Market Fit" (private event)


February 25, 2016

"How to Quickly Find Product-Market Fit"

Event Page

Product School

February 3, 2016

"Getting To Product-Market Fit Quickly"



Product School

December 2015

"Agile Hacks for Product Managers"


November 18, 2015

"Agile Hacks for Startups"



November 2014

"Metrics Driven Prioritization"



Spring 2014

"Quantifying Risk for Innovative Teams"


Lean Kanban North America

May 2014

"Quantifying Risk for Innovation Teams"


Lean Startup Conference

Nov 2012

"How Engineers Embrace Lean Startup Methods"

Let's Get In Touch!

Ready to talk? Shoot me an email or just use the calendar link to book a call.